Natural Disasters

Severe flooding occurred during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand, resulting in more than 800 deaths and 14 million people affected, mostly in the northern region and the greater Bangkok metro area.

Project Uses Satellites for Rapid Assessment of Flood Response Costs

Overall global losses from natural disasters such as floods, landslides or earthquakes amount to about $300 billion annually. A rapid and early response is key to immediately address the loss of human life, property, infrastructure and business activity.

by |May 22, 2017
Heavy smoke blanketed Sumatra and Borneo in September and October 2015, as observed by NASA’s Terra satellite. (NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.)

Rising Temperatures Lead to Increased Fire Risk in Indonesia

A new paper shows that rising temperatures have increased the risk of fires even during non-drought years in Indonesia, possibly making mild fire seasons in the country a thing of the past.

by |May 1, 2017
A worker walks down the damaged roadway near the Oroville Dam emergency spillway. The California Department of Water Resources continues to examine and repair the erosion with more than 125 construction crews working around the clock. Photo: Brian Baer/ California Department of Water Resources

Oroville Dam Crisis is a Call to Action on U.S. Water Infrastructure

Columbia Water Center director Upmanu Lall suggests that we see the Oroville crisis as a call to action to evaluate and address the challenges facing the nation’s dam infrastructure.

by |February 20, 2017
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Disaster Experts: A Journalist’s Guide

An all-purpose guide for journalists covering disasters, natural and manmade.

by |February 14, 2017
Chris and Dan discussing notes on locations to visit based on recent satellite images and entering them into the GPS.

Sampling on the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers

The final phase of our revolves around visiting chars, sandy river islands, on the Ganges and Brahmaputra River. Chris and Dan are making measurements of soil salinity and moisture and spectra of the soil reflectance, while Liz and I collected samples for OSL dating and understanding the OSL properties of the river sediments here. This entails a mixture of driving around the country and spending time on small country boats and walking around the chars.

by |February 4, 2017
The M.B. Mowali, our home for the next two days for the run to Hiron Point and back.

Side Trip to Hiron Point, Sundarbans

After helping Chris an Dan with soil salinity and reflectance measurement, Humayun, Liz and I moved onto the smaller M.B. Mewl to sail through the Sundarban Mangrove Forest to service our GPS station at Hiron Point.

by |January 31, 2017
Liz measures and describing the sediments that have accumulated over  the base of the wells since they were installed in 2011.

Equipment Repairs in SW Bangladesh

Humayun, Liz and I headed to Khulna in SW Bangladesh a day after Chris and Dan. Along the way, we stopped at our sediment compaction meter for surveying and removing the GPS, and getting feasted by the family that hosts the system.

by |January 31, 2017
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Back to Bangladesh to Date Earthquakes and More

I’m back in Bangladesh with a small team after a year and a half away. One different is a police escort as a result of the attacks last year. We start by successfully sampling river sediments to correct the date of an earthquake that caused a river to shift over 3,500 years ago. We also will be fixing broken equipment, visiting the ever changing rivers and hopefully meeting with the public and government officials about the earthquake hazard.

by |January 27, 2017
Below the Mesocyclone: The stovepipe tornado stretches down below the structure of the supercell mesocyclone and tornado cyclone. This would go on to become the EF-5, 2.6-mile-wide monster.

Increasing Tornado Outbreaks: Is Climate Change Responsible?

In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers looked at increasing trends in the severity of tornado outbreaks, measured by the number of tornadoes per outbreak. They found that these trends are increasing fastest for the most extreme outbreaks.

by |December 1, 2016
Hoover Dam. Photo: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Dammed Funding for U.S. Dams

Across the nation, large-scale water infrastructure such as dams have provided a multitude of services, from electric power and water reservoirs to flood control and containment of pollution. But federal investments in large water infrastructure projects have largely been curtailed over the past few decades.

by |October 12, 2016